Property from an Important Indian Collection

Ganesh Pyne

The House

Auction Closed

October 26, 03:08 PM GMT


70,000 - 90,000 GBP

Lot Details


Property from an Important Indian Collection

Ganesh Pyne

1937 - 2013

The House

Tempera on canvas

Signed and dated in Bengali lower right

48.3 x 50.8 cm. (19 x 20 in.)

Painted in 2003

Acquired directly from the artist
S. Som, An Enchanted Space: The Private World of Ganesh Pyne, CIMA Gallery Pvt. Ltd, Kolkata, 2006, illustration p. 8 

This haunting work on canvas is an exceptional example of Ganesh Pyne’s melancholic artistic style. In this evening scene, the façade of the stone building is brilliantly scattered with the interplay of light and shadow, creating the illusion of dancing shapes in the night. Known for his unusual cast of ghostly figures, this empty scene is unsettling for its very absence of figures and the derelict feel of the building. Profoundly evocative and rendered in a sombre palette with an exquisite, watery opacity, this painting is quintessential Pyne.

Pyne was born in Calcutta in 1937, where he lived and worked until his death in 2013. Culturally, he was influenced by his grandmother’s tales of Bengali folklore as well as the drawings and watercolours of the Bengal School of Art, in particular those of the group’s founder, Abanindranath Tagore; and the artists, musicians, poets and dramatists with whom he socialised. On a darker note, Pyne’s consciousness was also profoundly influenced by his memories of Calcutta’s communal violence of 1946, which he witnessed as a nine year old. Pyne recalls,

“I was shaken by the sight. Since then, I have been obsessed with the dark world.”

(G. Sen, Image and Imagination: Five Contemporary Artists in India, Mapin Publishing, Ahmedabad, 1996, p. 126)

Painted in 2003, the current lot is an example of Pyne’s mature artistic style. The work bears the influence of his formative experiences in Calcutta and is simultaneously the cumulation of his long and celebrated career. The painting is an expert play of light and shade, and the areas of dramatic luminosity have been achieved through Pyne’s signature use of tempera. In a manner recalling that of medieval miniaturists – who glazed their works with natural dye and used egg-whites as a fixative over each layer of colour – Pyne laboriously created his own binding agents and fixatives from indigenous plant varieties to layer his own works, giving them their incandescent quality.